Tasman, 24, QLD

“I wish the government understood that the representation and participation of young people in all levels of decision-making is not just as a pathway for a sustainable and prosperous economy for all but is a moral imperative for the rights and wellbeing of young people.

Governmental interaction with young people must transcend paternalistic preaching or well-meaning but superficial outreach. Young people are not your rubberstamp or a box checking exercise. That regardless of however we present ourselves and however we engage in our democracy, it must be the obligation of government to meaningfully listen to us.

Politicians of all parties must understand that the roots of youth disengagement stem from petty machinations that do nothing to reflect the diversity of us as people or our nuanced interests as citizens. That political deadlock and dysfunction does nothing to inspire us. We face everyday challenges of negotiating and navigating the complexity of bureaucracies, structural economic disadvantages, intersecting layers of discrimination all whilst the constant broadsides of intergenerational warfare we did not fire – that we are apathetic, entitled, lazy, delicate.

And yet we passionate community leaders, pioneering entrepreneurs and innovators, and hardworking artists and scientists. Our political leaders and governments must see young people as who are: human beings with aspirations for not just a better tomorrow but a better today.”